Beyond Pink and Blue, Pt. 4: Baby Proofing Your New Nursery

As promised in our last entry in this little look at how to do nurseries right, today’s final post is all about the absolutely most important part of building a room for baby: keeping your new bundle of joy safe and sound. Unfortunately, some parents think this is as simple as buying a nice crib and keeping sharp objects away, but while those are both certainly necessary, there’s quite a lot more to it than that.


Some of the most harmless-seeming objects and situations are actually something to look out for when preparing a room for an infant, so here’s Prestige Painting’s comprehensive checklist of what to do to cut down on the risks in your nursery, broken down by important areas.

The All-Important Crib

As they say, the crib should be the safest place in your entire house. This goes beyond simply buying a sturdy one with no sharp edges or easy exits- in fact, there are some very specific rules that have been worked out for optimal crib safety. Here’s what you should know about the crib:

-To begin with, there is actually an organization out there called the Juvenile Products Manufacturing Association that gives labels to cribs they’ve deemed safe, and they put them to rigorous tests before handing these out. Always look for the JPMA label when  buying a crib, and if it’s not on there, consider buying a different one. The JMPA  website has a handy registry checklist that lists brands with the JMPA seal, to make things more convenient.

-Another place to check on your crib is BabyCenter’s Product Recall Database, which   will tell you if the crib you’re looking at has been recalled (obviously not something you want in a crib.)

-Buying new is almost always the way to go. While that antique might look good, you  just don’t know what kind of paint is used on it or how much stress it has been put  under.

-Bars on cribs should have a gap no wider than 2 3/8 inches. Much testing has been  done to determine this, so trust the number. For an easy test, try and fit a coke can  between the bars. If you can, they’re too far apart.

-Corner posts need to be at one extreme or the other; that is very short or very tall to avoid snags and other injuries. The official rule is that they should either be less than 1/16th of an inch tall or over 16 inches.

-Non-painted cribs are best. If you go with a painted crib, you need to make certain it was painted with non-toxic, zero VOC paint. If you can’t find this information, you don’t want the crib.

-Wooden cribs should be absolutely splinter free.

-The current consensus is that cribs with sides that lower are more dangerous than those that don’t, so it’s best to avoid them. If you must go with a crib with lowering sides, make sure that they stay at least 9 inches above the mattress even when lowered and are at least 26 inches above when raised. The National Safety Council  says that lowering the side should take two separate actions -or- a single action that requires at least 10 pounds of force.

-There should be no bedding or stuffed animals in the crib for children under 6 months. They may seem harmless, or even add an extra layer of safety, but studies have shown that they present risks through overheating and choking.

-The fit of the mattress is very important. First, it should be at the right height. As your  baby gets taller, you need to make sure the mattress is low enough that it can’t reach out or close to the top of the crib. Second, the mattress needs to fit the crib snugly. Another easy way to find out if your mattress is safe: try and fit two fingers in the space between mattress and crib. If you can fit them, the mattress is too small for the crib.

-Don’t hang anything on or from the crib. It might look cute, but it poses a major   strangulation risk. Additionally, it’s a good idea not to hang anything directly above the crib. If you must have a mobile or the like, make absolutely sure it’s out of reach, and  find one with strings that are less than 7 inches long. Once the child is able to stand, remove the mobile entirely.

-Don’t use sleep positioners or other products that say they reduce the possibility of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. These are not proven to work and can actually be harmful.

-Once your child is 9 months or older, switch their clothing to a snug-fitting or flame-resistant brand. It might seem like a long shot, but stats show that around 250 babies  are admitted to the hospital a year due to complications with loose-fitting clothes and   fire.

-Bumper pads should be attached all over the edges of the crib, and according to the National Safety Council they should snap or tie in place in at least six places. Once your child is able to stand or turns 5 months old, remove the bumpers.

Arranging the Room Safely with the Right Furniture

Where and what you put in the room outside of the crib is also a huge factor in keeping that lil one safe and happy. Some objects you might not think are dangerous have been determined to be hazards, and arrangement can mean the difference between a perfectly safe baby and a trip to the hospital.

-Where you place your crib is very important. It should be near no other furniture or windows, and nothing should be above it, including shelves. The crib should also be away from direct sunlight and heaters, as these can cause overheating.

-A carpet or rug is a very good idea, as it will help protect against falls or tumbles. Always use a non-slip mat under any moveable rugs.

-Avoid floor lamps, because these are very easy to knock over.

-No furniture that could be climbed on should be in the room. Something that a standing child could crawl up and fall off, for instance.

-All large pieces of furniture should be secured to the walls with L brackets to avoid knocking them over.

-Rocking chairs can squish little hands and other body parts. Get a glider with no exposed gears and a locking mechanism that keeps it from moving when not in use by an adult.

-Check the paint and wood on every bit of furniture in the room. No cracking or splintering, and if you don’t know if a paint is lead-free and non-toxic, don’t put the furniture in the room.

Safety Concerns in the Rest of the Room

Besides big pieces of furniture, there are some hazard areas and objects that will need to be addressed before you introduce your baby to the room.

-Windows shouldn’t have strings or other cords that hang down within a baby’s reach.   These should be cut, avoided completely or hung in a way that puts them out of reach. Windows should also have window guards to catch falling babies (not just a screen), and there should be no furniture near windows. Latches are also a must.

-Don’t use table cloths on any surface. A baby can easily snag or grab one of these, and everything on it can come tumbling down.

-Heavy things hung on walls are a hazard, so stick to lightweight things that aren’t likely to cause damage if they fall.

-Doors are important. You should have finger-pinch guards on hinges and mechanisms in place to keep walking children from operating door handles.

-Toy boxes should have no lids, as these can result in kids getting trapped inside and  suffocating or getting squished by them.

-All cabinets and doors should have a lock on them.

-Any appliances should always be put away in a locked area.

-Cords should be secured or shortened to avoid a strangulation hazard.

-Electrical outlets should all have swivel covers on them (not just the plastic kind).

-The paint in the actual room should be non-toxic and have zero VOCs, just like on the crib.

Positive Ideas


-Ceiling fans are a definite “yes,” as they are proven to help prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome by up to 72%! So, get that fan!

-Baby monitors are excellent tools and should be installed by each crib in a nursery.

-Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are no-brainers: you should have both.

-UL listed night lights and replacement bulbs are much better for your baby. Keep the night light out of reach, however!

It might seem like a lot to take in, but this list of dos and don’ts (okay, mostly don’ts) has come together due to years and years of research and studies on accidents. While it’s not likely that most of these things will harm your child, there’s just no reason to take the risk. Because after all, what’s a little extra work when it comes to giving your child the best chance to live a long, healthy life?


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3505 Bent River Road
Birmingham, AL35216

Phone: 205-982-0420